Open City hosts a broad cross-section of patrons, from local hipsters and neighborhood families to conventioneers staying at the nearby Marriott and Omni hotels. Freelancers and students leisurely sip coffee and use the free Wi-Fi, and while the café is open all day long, the most popular meals here are breakfast and brunch. Look for omelets, scrambles, buttermilk or multi-grain pancakes, french toast, mimosas and everything else you might crave before noon, all served with a seriously relaxed vibe. While breakfast is served all day, those dining later might want to indulge in one of the homemade salads or sandwiches, or fawn over a cup of coffee – served with animal crackers on the side. No matter what your order, the big, yawning space will make you feel right at home, thanks to an abundance of natural light. Or, soak it all in from their sidewalk patio space.
In the dead of night in 1976, the Abi-Najm family boarded a cargo ship bringing only what they could carry; an escape from Civil War in Lebanon called for a quick getaway. They traveled across the ocean to safety in Arlington, Virginia, where they were able to open a small cafe in 1979. To save money, they changed the eatery?s name from ?Athenian Taverna? to ?Lebanese Taverna? so that they only had to update one word on the eatery?s marquee.
From these modest beginnings grew a series of eateries that today comprises of six cafes and four quick-service caf?s, all still operated by the Abi-Najm clan. One look at the menu explains the success: chicken shawarma, spicy hummus, lamb tartare?all Lebanese staples that helped the restaurant earn a spot on Northern Virginia magazine's list of 25 Iconic Eats. There's even kibbeh, or stuffed meatballs, which blend ground beef, lamb, almonds, and pine nuts into fried spheres suitable for felling miniature bowling pins on top of the table before entrees arrive. The decor is as striking as the cuisine; inside the Bethesda location, light filters through the colored glass lanterns that decorate the dining room.
An elegant coffee shop with a French bakery twist, Patisserie Poupon is filled with luscious baked goods and so much more. This upscale Georgetown destination is delicately lined with confections and fresh-from-the-oven treats of all kinds, including a raved about almond croissant. Locals like to gather briefly at the small café tables, or lounge in the wicker-backed chairs on the adjoining brick patio, where Fido is allowed to relax as well. Of course, no visit would be complete without picking up a luscious French pastry or loaf of artisan bread to take home, along with a café au lait to enjoy on the ride. A variety of gourmet foodstuffs line the shelves and countertop as well, including honeys and small-batch jams, which makes putting together a quick gift basket a cinch.
To say Capital Teas? founders, Manelle and Peter Martino, know tea might be a bit of an understatement. Fifth-generation tea merchant Manelle?s great-great-grandfather, Francis Van Reyk, was a Dutch tea planter who immigrated in the 1870s to present-day Sri Lanka, where he planted and managed the Diyagama Tea Estate, from which the Martinos now source their Great Grandfather?s tea. Manelle?s family has been in the tea trade ever since, a tradition she has carried to her own specialty tea business, which has boutique locations throughout the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland area. Additionally, Peter has become a popular speaker at World Tea Expos, where he frequently educates and inspires the tea world.
In addition to tea from Sri Lanka, Capital Teas carries more than 200 loose teas and herbal infusions from 18 countries including India, China, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya. A sniffing wall dispenses wafts of black, oolong, and green teas, and knowledgeable employees drift around the store?s tasting stations to explain each flavor?s nuances.
Capital Teas also pairs customers with accompaniments such as teapots, infusers, treats, and artisanal honey. In-store patrons may sample free tea samples?which are brewed fresh daily?while online purchasers receive a free sample with every order.
Handmade Argentinian Gelato | Authentic Dolce de Leche | Local Ingredients | Seasonal Flavors | Artisanal Coffee
The Scoop: When owner Robb Duncan first had Argentine-style gelato during a trip to his wife’s native city of Buenos Aires in 1998, the taste lingered with him for years. “It just blew me away,” he states in an article in The Washington Post, “I’d had [gelato] in Italy, but never like it was in Buenos Aires.” That’s probably because the South American version calls for more cream and no eggs, lending it an ultra-rich taste and a uniquely smooth, yet airy texture. In 2004, Duncan put his money where his taste buds were and opened up the first Dolcezza in Washington D.C. with his wife. Even with four storefronts and a visitor-friendly factory, the Duncans and their team still craft the gelatos by hand every morning, drawing from an arsenal of fresh seasonal fruits, herbs, milks, and creams from local farms.
While You're in the Neighborhood
It’s easy to skip right past Puro Café, located in a skinny renovated townhouse halfway up Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. But you don’t want to miss out on the dining experience inside, which combines a Euro-chic ambiance with Mediterranean-inspired tapas and entrées. Brunch is the most popular meal here, and if the weather’s fine, you can enjoy the coconut French toast, eggs Benedict or prosciutto parma flatbread on the leafy patio out back. Even sitting indoors is a brightening experience, thanks to light blonde wood touches and a chic, white-walled décor. Puro also serves up wines, cocktails and espressos to accompany the buzzing crowd.